Sometimes when we release the children to go to the nursery I feel like we're the parents who get to stay up late and play after their kids go to bed. That's what our kids think we do, right? But it is one of the many blessings of parenthood: putting your kids to bed and then having just a little bit of couple time. You know what I mean? Maybe you talk for a little while, or just watch a little television together, or get a second dessert. Sometimes it's brief because it's been such a long day, but other times it extends for hours into the night.
Not long ago, after putting the kids to bed, Abby and I stayed up a little while longer watching a show called, âI Shouldn't Be Alive.â The show documents true stories of people who endured terrible tragedies and lived to tell about it. Each episode features a different story. One woman was running with her dog along the edge of a canyon, and she slipped and fell into the canyon and broke her legs. She drags herself miles, but cannot drag herself out, but then days later, a rescue team follows her dog to where she was just barely still alive. Two teenage boys were in a small fishing boat that got pulled out into the ocean, where they were stranded for 7 days without food and water, baking in the sun, until spotted and rescued. A group of hunters hiked up a mountain and got stuck in a blizzard until they were rescued by a helicopter, which then crashed and left them stranded once again, until they were eventually spotted and rescued. In each of these circumstances, the situation seemed so bleak and hopeless. The thing is, without Christ, we are even more hopeless than any of these. But the good news is that Christ is available to everyone, and offers all of us a great salvation from our sin.
Read Hebrews 2:1-4
When a passage starts with the word "therefore," we need to ask the question, "what's the therefore there for?" Usually to answer this question we only need to back up one or two verses (1:14). But in this case, that only partially answers the question. Yes, it does have something to do with angels, and something to do with salvation. But the bigger issue has to do with the entire previous chapter, especially the first two verses of Hebrews 1.
God has spoken to us in many ways. God has even spoken to us through angels. There are many instances of this in the Old Testament. But there was even an opinion among the Jews that the whole Law came by the ministry of angels. We see this most clearly from some of Stephen's last words (Acts 7:51). I don't think he was confirming this opinion, but rather he recognized that the people he was talking to had the opinion. But Christ is greater than angels, and He has spoken to us, too!
It's interesting that we don't find any commands for us to follow in the first chapter. Certainly there are implications. We ought to worship Jesus, just as the angels do. Christ ought to be our focus, not anything in His creation, since He is Creator and Lord and God. But there are no direct, âdo thisâ type commands in the first chapter.
The first chapter simply lifts Jesus up and shows how great He is. He is Creator! He is the heir of all things! He is the radiance of the glory of God! He is the exact imprint of God's nature! He upholds universe by the word of His power! He made purification for sins! He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High! He is greater than angels! He is the Son of God! And He is God Himself!
Therefore, (2:1) we need to be sure we listen to His message! We need to pay much closer attention to Christ's message. Everything written in chapter 1 is there to excite us, and to impress upon us to the greatness and importance of the first command given in the book: listen to Jesus. If we trust the message of God brought by angels, surely we must much more trust the message of Christ, because Christ is God!
What do you fill your mind with? We all listen to various things. When you're driving somewhere, the radio is typically on. What are you listening to? When you're at home, the television is often on. What are you watching? If you're a reader, what are you reading? If you have internet access, what websites are you going to? And often you need to just turn all these things off in order to listen to God. We need to tune out all the noise, and listen to God's Word. God's Word, the Bible, is Christ's message to us. All of the Bible points to Jesus Christ. And, the Bible comes to us directly from Jesus (John 1:1).
And notice the transmission of Christ's message to us (v 3b-4). Christ preached salvation through Himself. The apostles then continued to preach salvation through Jesus. And we know that their message is the message of Christ because the Holy Spirit revealed Himself through them in powerful ways. And the apostles wrote this message in letters and books which make up the New Testament, so it is truly Christ's message to us. The authority of Scripture means that to disbelieve or not obey anything in the Bible is to disbelieve and disobey God.
So many are looking for a message from God in so many places, but God has spoken clearly and understandably, and His Word to us is available to us 24 hours a day! We need to be sure to listen to what God tells us, rather than what our enemy, the devil, wants us to listen to.
And there's a very important reason why we should listen (v. 1). If we do not heed the message of Christ, we may quite easily drift away. It's so easy to drift away. We don't have to do anything. It just happens naturally and slowly that we don't even notice it until it's too late. J. Vernon McGee tells a story about a man who fell asleep in his boat on Niagra River as it approached the Falls. The man woke up before hitting the Falls, but it was too late, the current was too strong, and the rapids pulled the boat with him in it over the edge, and the man was killed.
There are likely such drifters in this room. You haven't read your Bible in awhile. You haven't shared your faith with anyone in a long, long time. You go entire days without saying a 30 second prayer. We need to be intentional about listening to Christ, or else we drift away from Him. The encouraging thing is, though, that if you know you've been drifting away, and you don't want to drift away, that's a very good sign. The difference between us and the man on Niagra River is that it's never too late for us to call on Jesus for help. Jesus may be stirring in you this morning to rekindle your relationship with Him, to stir you to listen to Him again.
But I want us to remember the purpose of chapter 1 while we listen. Yes, if we don't listen, there's the possibility of drifting away, but that's not our primary motivation. Our primary motivation for listening to Christ is the greatness of Christ. It's the same with salvation. Becoming a Christian out of fear isn't a lasting, changing motivation. We ought to be compelled to worship Christ because of His love, His grace, His greatness, His majesty, His salvation.
It is truly a great salvation (v. 3a). We're saved from our sins. We're saved from Satan. We're saved from despair. We're being transformed into more joyful people who are happy in God. We're becoming what God intended for us to be. And we will forever be with God, in Heaven, by His grace, praising Him for all eternity. What a great salvation!
Yet many neglect it. They dismiss the reality of Heaven and Hell. They put the decision off. They diminish the importance of paying any attention to the grace of God. And if that's our attitude, the Bible asks, âHow can we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?â The answer is we can't! The only hope we have in life or after this life is Christ, and there is no escape from eternal darkness outside of Christ.
But even we who know Christ often don't live fully with God's great salvation at the forefront of our minds. The same command applies to us: we must listen to Christ and His Word. But we might look at this the wrong way and think, âI've got to listen to Christ in order to please God and stay on His good side and one day maybe go to Heaven.â That's not how it works! When we know Christ, He is our joy! To neglect such a great salvation would be to neglect that which gives us the most joy! Since Christ is our joy, we might read verse 1 this way: âTherefore, we must pay much closer attention to our joy, lest we drift away from our joy.â And we might read verse 3 this way: âHow shall we escape if we neglect our joy?â God has so much more for us, yet we often settle for whatever is on television.
Jeremy Taylor, a 17th century clergyman, once said, âGod threatens terrible things if we will not be happy.â Be intentional to seek after Christ. Listen to His Word. Praise God every moment for His great salvation. Pursue the present realities of such a great salvation. Realize that this great salvation isn't just fire insurance, but an entire life support system. It sustains our lives today. We have hope and joy and peace today, and we have it more and more if we celebrate the great salvation we have in Jesus Christ.